Tag Archives: State Violence

Hindi Press Release Of The CDRO and WSS Fact Finding of Khunti, Ghagra, Palamu Tiger Reserve And Sedition Cases

From 17th to 19th of August, a ten member fact finding team of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) and Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), along with local activists, travelled across the state of Jharkhand and investigated incidents of violation of human rights in Jharkhand state. Please find a link to the team’s Press Release (Hindi Version) below.

Hindi Press Release Khunti FF 17-19th August 2018

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Press Release Of The CDRO and WSS Fact Finding of Khunti, Ghagra, Palamu Tiger Reserve And Sedition Cases

Press Release 19th August 2018

From 17th to 19th of August, a ten member fact finding team of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) and Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), along with local activists, travelled across the state of Jharkhand and investigated incidents of violation of human rights in Jharkhand state. The first case was the recent incident of the rape of five women in Khunti district, the second was the Betla Tiger Project and the team tried to speak with several persons on whom the Jharkhand state has filed cases of sedition. Following news coverage and reports from human rights activists in Jharkhand, the fact-finding team reached out to as many people as possible including the villagers, intellectuals, activists, journalists, lawyers and the police. Continue reading

WSS Statement On The Sukma Encounter On August 6th 2018.

Immediate and independent probe of the alleged encounter killing of 15 ‘Naxals’ in Sukma

The morning of August 6th 2018, preliminary news reports indicated that 15 ‘Naxals’ had been gunned down by the Chhattisgarh police in Sukma district. This encounter, the reports claimed, also included injuries to two others, a man and a woman, who were then arrested. This encounter happened near Nalkatong village in the Mika Tong forests near Gollapalli and Konta Block of South Sukma. It was conducted by two teams of District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) at roughly 6:30 am and it continued for roughly an hour. As per the SP of Sukma, this combined force numbering 200 personnel encircled and cordoned off a Maoist camp which appeared to have 20-25 militia members. The militia members, it is claimed, belonged to the tri-junction of Gollapalli, Konta and Bhejji areas. Bastar range Inspector General of Police Vivekananda Sinha has claimed that the exchange of fire lasted two hours and the Maoists had initiated the firing forcing the security forces to retaliate. According to Chhattisgarh’s Special Director General of Police (Anti-Naxal operations) DM Awasthi, the recovery of a large cache of arms, explosives and bodies of 15 Naxals along with the arrest of two is evidence of the success of the “biggest anti-Naxal operation in the history of Chhattisgarh”. Meanwhile, the police claim that they faced no setbacks in this operation and all their personnel returned safely to the base camp in Konta.

A day after all these claims, in Kistaram hundreds of women protested against this police action by calling it a ‘fake encounter’. The women protesting police action claim that all those killed were villagers working in their fields and none of them are Naxals. Following a visit to the site by Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, it was revealed that the police force, in order to show their efficiency in combating Naxals in the area, shot and killed villagers. The villagers, harassed by intrusive search and combing operations in the area, were encircled and killed in indiscriminate firing. It seems some of the people killed are villagers from Gompad, the very village where two years ago a woman was raped and killed by the police and then declared a ‘Naxal’. The claim that any of them were Naxals was strongly opposed by the people resulting in questions about police action in the area. None of the villagers were armed. AAP leader and member of WSS, Soni Sori has asked, “If they were really Maoists, how come none of them had a single automatic weapon in a group of 15? The 15 dead included two brother and seven teenagers.” Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and Ramdev Baghel, representatives of Aam Aadmi Party in the area, have raised serious doubts about the veracity of police claims by speaking with the villagers and have demanded an independent probe. Most crucially, the villagers have claimed that out of the 15 killed, six were minors aged between 14 and 17 years. All those killed were working in their fields when they were killed. The police encircled them in their fields and shot indiscriminately.

As per reports from the ground, villagers from four villages belonging to Mehta Panchayat – Nalkatong, Gompad, Kindrampada and Velpocha – including children between the ages of 14-17 from Nalkatong village were killed by the combined police team. Two people arrested include Madkam Budri, a woman from Nalkatong village who was shot in the leg and Vanjam Hunga from Velpocha village; both are now declared ‘Naxals’. The police are claiming both of them were apprehended during the operation. But the villagers claim that besides these two villagers, three more young adivasis are in police custody. Meanwhile, the villagers are being repeatedly beaten up, including pregnant women, in an effort to keep them quiet. The people from all these villages are clearly stating that there were no Naxals present among them and have invited independent probes to see for itself. It is crucial to note that Gompad is the very same village where two years ago Madkam Hidme, a young adivasi woman, was raped and killed after being declared a Naxal by the police. At that time too the villagers had come together and condemned the police action.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, has called it a “big, successful and clean operation”. Just days before this operation, the chief minister had claimed that “either they should surrender and join the mainstream, or our forces are ready and Naxals will no longer be spared”. Minister for Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh, has also congratulated the police forces for this operation. The police claim that further search and combing operations are underway. On the one hand, DM Awasthi has claimed that the two teams were sent to the area following intelligence reports and, on the other, the SP of Sukma Abhishek Meena has claimed that “it was sheer chance that our forces spotted a Maoist camp along their route of operation and targeted the cadres. In the gun-battle, our men killed 15 Maoists on the spot”. Even as more questions are being raised regarding the incident on August 6th, the CRPF is planning to set up 17 more police camps in Sukma, Bijapur and Balrampur with two companies of CRPF in each wherein each company will roughly have 110 personnel.

In light of the contradictions in the police narrative and, more importantly, the claims made by the people of Nalkatong and the adjoining villages, it is clear that an immediate and independent probe is needed to ascertain the events in the night and morning of 5th and 6th August 2018. The history of sexual violence and police excess in the area raises apprehensions of an orchestrated operation meant to project ‘success’ for the Chhattisgarh police and boost the morale of the forces in the area. The impact of such operations on the people of Chhattisgarh, especially the adivasis of Bastar region, needs to seen in light of increasing repression on people, the easy and convenient branding of adivasis as ‘Naxals’ and the policy of killing villagers during the monsoons in the days leading up to the Independence Day creating an environment of police terror in the region. WSS condemns the beating up of the villagers including pregnant women by the Chhattisgarh police and paramilitary, all efforts made to silence the people of Sukma, and demand an immediate end to such practices including setting up of camps, intrusive combing operations, harassment of villagers, and threats to the lives of people daring to protest police excess. WSS is alarmed by reports of seven minors being killed in this operation and demands that the police and CRPF immediately cease actions wherein people are shot in cold blood in the name of combating Naxalism. Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court with a prayer to file 302 IPC against paramilitary forces who have killed villagers, asked for the constitution of a judicial enquiry, a review of the post-mortem, called for a stay of auxiliary promotions to the paramilitary personnel, and appealed for the establishment of a criminal investigation by the CBI or set up SIT to investigate the killings. WSS stands in solidarity and supports this petition by CLC. Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) calls on all democratic forces to take note of the appeal made by the villagers of the Mehta Panchayat in Sukma and probe the incident immediately and judiciously.

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

Conveners: Ajita, Nisha, Rinchin and Shalini; Contact: againstsexualviolence@gmail.com

CDRO & WSS Press Release On Fact-Finding Related To Police Firing And Killing Of Anti-Sterlite Protesters

CDRO & WSS Press Release on fact-finding related to police firing and killing of Anti-Sterlite protesters

The Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organization (CDRO) and Woman against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) team, consisting of 17 members undertook a fact finding from 16.06.2018 to 18.06.2018 in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu regarding the firing and killing of Anti Sterlite protesters and the Civilians on 22nd and 23rd May 2018. The fact finding team visited the family of the deceased, injured people in the firing, the villagers in the proximity of the Vedanta Sterlite plant, Bar Association of Thoothukudi, Trade Unionist and Civic and Administrative officials of Thoothukudi district.

Targeted Killings:

During our visits and the interaction with the cross section of people involved in this Anti Sterltie protest movement, the fact finding committee has observed that the firing by the police on 22nd and 23rd of May at the Collectorate and Anna Nagar 6th Cross road were deliberate and pre-planned. Most of the people killed were specifically targeted by the police as they have been in the forefront of this protest. Out of 13 people killed, we visited 6 families of which 3 were a clear case of targeted killing of either leaders or active participants of the protest. The family members of all the deceased had claimed that they intended for a peaceful protest and not indulge in violent protest as claimed by administration. Most of them carried children and food packages for a peaceful protest at collector’s office. The state and Sterlite engineered violence to repress the anti-sterlite movement by indulging in unprovoked indiscriminate firing on the people.

Injured:

As per the information received from the hospital authorities by the fact finding team, in total 125 were injured on both the days. The team visited 10 injured in the hospital of whom majority were bullet injuries in the ankle, knee and one bullet injured patient had to be amputated above knee. The compensation though immediately dispersed to the family members by the State was insufficient and they demanded further justice for the dead and the injured. The key observation from the family members of the deceased was that the post Mortem report was not handed to any family despite request. Instead they were threatened, beaten, lathi charged at the Hospital mortuary, some of the family members recalled that the police had asked them to file RTI to receive the post mortem report.

Witching Hunting/ Repression:

The local people of these villages informed us that there has been an ongoing police repression in the form of midnight raids, targeting innocent men and woman. The lawyer’s forum of Thoothukudi has said that more than 250 people have been detained and booked under various charges. It has also come to the knowledge of the team that 7 people have been booked under NSA act in the past one week alone.

Health Hazards:

The committee also visited villages around the plant and met men and woman who shared their health concerns. The incidence as narrated includes cancer of uterus, breast and other organs, skin disorders, blindness, infertility, respiratory problems like asthmatic bronchitis, severe gynaecological disorders affecting girls and woman and paediatric disorders with children born with mental retardation and other physical deformities, ENT problems etc. The government and the Sterlite had not taken any steps to mitigate these severe health problems. The villagers reiterated that such diseases were not as prevalent before the establishment of Sterlite plant.

We Demand:

  • All cases registered against the protesters be withdrawn with immediate effect.
  • All the arrested Anti-Sterlite protesters including those booked under NSA be released unconditionally.
  • Immediate permanent closure of Sterlite copper smelter plant as a policy decision by the Government.
  • Criminal Action under Section 302 of IPC should be initiated against the civil, police and management of the Sterlite company for their criminal negligence of duty and massacre of anti-Sterlite protestors
    in Thoothukudi.
  • All land acquired for the Sterlite plant through SIPCOT be returned to its original land owners.
  • The compensation amount should be increased for those killed and injured, akin to the Mandsaur MP firing victims where Rs 1 crore was granted to each person killed and Rs 50 lakhs to the injured.
  • To conduct health/Epidemiological survey in the Industrial belt of Thoothukudi to assess the various increasing disease patterns prevalent in the region.

Eviction of Charan Khad Settlement Dharamshala: A Fact Finding Report

In response to disturbing information circulated on our mailing lists about the eviction of a long-standing settlement in Dharamshala, WSS (Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression) and Delhi Forum took the decision to field a joint fact-finding mission; with the objective of investigating the situation, ascertaining if violations of law and human rights had taken place and exploring the possibilities for resettlement and rehabilitation of the community.

Read the final report here and annexures here.